International customers can be a source of added revenue for online sellers, but can also be a huge hassle due to shipping, customs and delivery issues. Bongo International is a mail-forwarding service based in Bridgeport, Connecticut that is on a campaign to reach online merchants - including eBay sellers - to spread the word about its service that aids cross-border trade.
Bongo International provides international buyers with a U.S. address at its Connecticut warehouse, and arranges shipping from the warehouse to the buyers' location. This free merchants from dealing with shipping quotes, compliance and documentation needed for international transport.
Buyers pay sellers for the products purchased along with domestic shipping charges and pay Bongo in a separate transaction for international shipping charges. Bongo provides buyers with tracking numbers for all shipments, including mapping software, so they can see where their packages are at any given time.
Laura Colado, Marketing Coordinator for Bongo International, said the company offers delivery and transit time of 1-5 days around the globe. She said Bongo rates are approximately 50% off the rates a consumer would pay if they walked into a local DHL, FedEx, or UPS facility. "In addition to our aggressive shipping rates, we enable international consumers the ability to consolidate and repackage goods that arrive at our facility. In many cases, we receive shipments that are poorly packaged and we are able to reduce the costs to the consumer by cutting down the size of the shipping boxes."
Bongo International has over 30,000 customers who regularly purchase goods from the U.S., and its website is translated into 15 major languages. International buyers pay Bongo choosing one of three plans: a personal subscription ($15/month); a personal pay-per-use plan ($5 sign up fee); or a business subscription ($35/month).
Online merchants pay no fees to Bongo if they sign up under a two-year service agreement, and the company helps them set up customized messaging about Bongo's services and integrate with its API on their marketplace product listings and on their own websites.
Jeff Goergen, General Manager of Sorinex, set up Bongo International on his company's website 6-8 weeks ago so that his staff would not have to figure out which carrier to use and get a shipping quote each time they received an inquiry from an overseas customer. Sorinex manufactures and sells exercise equipment to gyms, colleges, professional sports teams, the military and individuals.
Implementing Bongo on the site was easy, Goergen said, because Bongo already knew how to set up the system using his shopping cart system from Volusion.
The Sorinex website had not previously generated international orders and has since received orders from Sweden, Japan, Australia, England, Swizerland and the Netherlands. However, it did not bring in a huge amount of international orders - "not like a 100 orders a day or anything," he said.
The orders that Bongo processed went smoothly, and overall, he's happy with Bongo's service.
For online sellers who want international sales but don't want to deal with international shipping, Bongo's mail forwarding service may be worth exploring. A presentation is available on the Bongo website, and you can view a Yahoo Store and an eBay Motors listing that advertise Bongo International's service.